October Issue 2008
Of Frappes and Mochaccinos
From Coffee, Tea & Company to Gloria Jean, to Masoom’s to Jammin’ Java, to Dunkin Donuts to Espresso to you name it — Lahore seems to be standing knee-deep in an assortment of coffee beans that are mostly flown in from around the world. And given the mushrooming of coffee houses in the city in recent years, there still seems to be room for more.
That might be one reason why Lahore is known to be the second city (after Karachi) that never sleeps. At every nook, corner, street and boulevard is a coffee house that manages to lure people in with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. And once you’re in, there’s no turning back, or even calling it a night for that matter. Whether it’s a steaming cup of strong, black coffee from Jammin’ Java, a frothy vanilla cappuccino from Coffee, Tea & Company, a sensationally sweet Toffeeccino (my personal favourite) from Masoom’s, or a tall, chilled glass of the smoothest cold coffee from Gloria Jeans, in Lahore you’re bound to find a variety of coffee concoctions.
Fortunately, the price for a hot (or cold) cup of coffee often ranges from Rs.100 to a little below Rs.200. Gone are the days when good coffee — and a variety of it — was only available at five-star hotels, where just one cup of brewed beans was whipped up for over Rs.200.
Although Gloria Jeans and some of the other local coffee houses have fancier coffee options that fall within a similar price range as those available at five-star hotels, it is the ambience and their location that draws in a large crowd.
Lahore’s two five-star hotels, the Pearl Continental and Avari, are located on The Mall, whereas the coffee houses are mostly located on M.M. Alam Road in close proximity to each other and it’s easier to hop from one that is spilling over with late-nighters to the next one.
The best part about these coffee houses (other than the coffee, of course) are the fresh sandwiches, an assortment of cookies, slices of gooey cake, vegetable and chicken rolls and other finger food items. So it’s not unusual to order a yummy slice of malt cake (surely the best available at Masoom’s) to go with a chilled frappÃ©.
The burgeoning coffee houses and their addictive magic beans have also managed to bring with them a certain ‘coffee culture’ that was virtually non-existent five to seven years ago. And that is perhaps the most interesting aspect for a city such as Lahore, where earlier you were eyed suspiciously for sitting alone in a restaurant or cafÃ©, unlike Karachi which was far more open and accepting of lone coffee drinkers. But all that has now changed.
These days, it’s not unusual to spot a young, twenty/thirty-something man or woman, relaxing on a sofa in a coffee house, reading a book or magazine while enjoying his/her cup of coffee.
The claustrophobic cloud seems to have lifted — and the Lahoris owe it to the arrival of a chain of coffee houses in town. Here’s wishing for some more…